Smokey Robinson On Meeting Michael Jackson For First Time: His Life Was “Paradoxical”

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Music legend Smokey Robinson recently visited SiriusXM’s The Groove podcast with Jeff Foxx and revealed the mesmerizing time he met Michael Jackson. The “Tears of a Clown” crooner also shared how it was to watch his musical peers embrace him at such a young age while at Motown.

“His life was so paradoxical to me because when he was a little boy, he was a man, and when he was a man, he was a little boy,” Robinson told Foxx. “You know, but the first time I saw Michael, he was 10 years old. They [Jackson 5] actually came to Barry’s house to audition and I just called him my said, ‘You are actually, James Wilson,’ ’cause he was a cross between James Brown and Jackie Wilson. He’s 10 years old. He’s just a little bundle of talent, you know.”

Robinson also deemed the Thriller legend the “best [he’s] ever seen” and an “incredible” act.

“He could sing and dance, and when you see him doing those dances and stuff that you would think he’s dancing with all those professional dancers,” he noted of Jackson. “Kids who had been dancing since they were five years old, fit right on in … made up some of those routines and stuff. That’s who he was.”

Michael Jackson and James Brow
Michael Jackson and James Brown perform at the 3rd Annual BET Awards at the Kodak Theatre on June 24, 2003 in Hollywood, California.

Jackson would make the “moonwalk” his signature move and go on to do more iconic things in his career like the historic Thriller album accompanied with an unforgettable visual.

“The first movie video that he did, ‘Thriller,’ — he’s out, he’s dancing with all these professional dancers. He’s dancing. He was just amazing — well, Michael was a genius man,” the 83-year-old singer said. “Michael was a little guy, when we were doing the shows and stuff like that, Michael would change his films. He would watch everybody on the show. Everybody.”

“He’d stand in the wing and just watch, you know, and he’d shoot, you know, and he’d watched all the dancers. He watched Fred Astaire, Jackie Wilson, James Brown,” he added.

When recalling the time when Jackson, Prince, and Brown took the stage together, Robinson shared that the King of Pop was “conscientious about being Michael Jackson.”

“One of the greatest things I think I’ve ever seen was, one day — I wish I had this I don’t know even where to get it — but somebody was doing a special on James Brown, who was dynamic. James was the man, right?” he started. “So James, Michael was in the audience. He calls Michael up. He and Michael are doing his dance and [here] comes Prince. That must have been three of them.”

“But Michael was that man. He just, he just was conscientious about being Michael Jackson.”

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